Plato, Shadows, and the Internet
So what do they have in common ? Well probably not a lot really but its a boring, rainy afternoon so maybe you’ll indulge me for a few minutes ? One little story I’m quite fond of is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. It goes something like this ..
A group of people have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. They watch shadows projected onto the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. The shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. Plato then goes on to mutter a bit about how philosophers (like him) are better able to discern reality but then he would say that, wouldn’t he ? Leave that for the moment though and stick with the image of the prisoners in the cave trying to discern reality from shadows.
To me the internet seems a lot like Plato’s cave. Here we sit, chained to our computers and peering at the shadows. Its not reality we see. Its just a representation of reality and one that’s often quite opaque or distorted. Very little can be taken at face-value and much needs to be interpreted. That’s true of the news we read, the images we see and the people we meet online. It’s all shadows we turn into a reality that makes sense to us but isn’t necessarily true. Whether philosophers fare better on the interwebz than the rest of us is unclear. Somehow I doubt it although I’m sure they manage to be more philosophical about it all.
Or is this just me being a bit whimsical again ? Probably. Still, it whiled away a few minutes on a rainy afternoon ..:)